WooCommerce private products: how to create them (and why you should)

secret products

Certain types of stores may need to use WooCommerce private products.

WooCommerce does give us a very basic way to hide products. And WordPress itself provides the ability to password-protect a page or even a product. However, neither of these methods is very satisfactory.

How to create WooCommerce private products

In this article, we’ll look at how to create private products in WooCommerce using a single plugin.

The WooCommerce Members Only plugin lets you set up your private products in a matter of minutes. You can decide who can access your content, and define which content is private and which is public. You can also set how to restrict access, e.g. by password or user role.

WooCommerce Members Only featured image

WooCommerce Members Only

Protect your content and sell members-only products

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In total, throughout this article, we’ll look at:

  • Some reasons why you’d want to create private products and some different ways to make products private
  • The different methods to protect your products, including password protection and user roles
  • How to make all the products within an entire category private
  • Plus, there are a couple of step-by-step guides for specific use cases

And, best of all, it’ll only take a few minutes.

You can easily navigate to the section you want using the menu below:

What is a private product on WooCommerce?

Private products are products that have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Hidden from some customers or users
  • Visible to all customers but only purchasable by some
  • Password protected
  • Restricted by user role
  • Client specific products

WooCommerce hidden products

By default, WooCommerce doesn’t allow you to create private products. There is an option to make a product ‘hidden’, which only means that it won’t appear on the shop page or in product archives. It’s still accessible directly though if you have the URL.

This has limited application for us, particularly when we look at some of the ways to use private products below.

WordPress private posts and products

WordPress also allows you to make posts, including products, ‘private’. A private product, in this sense means that only admins and editors can view it.

Again, this doesn’t help you if you want customers to view your private products.

WordPress password-protected posts and products

WordPress itself allows you to password-protect posts, including products. Again though, this has limited application. Perhaps it’s useful if you want to share a link with a colleague before you publish it to the world.

Private products are the answer

Private products, on the other hand, take the concept much further. They can be totally hidden from users, redirecting users to a landing page if they try to access the product with a direct URL.

They can also, if you wanted, be visible to all users but only accessible to some. It’s a bit like pressing your face against the window of a shop that you’re not allowed to enter.

What are the benefits of WooCommerce private products?

If you’ve landed on this page because you’re interested in how to create private products in WooCommerce, you might want to skip ahead to the next section.

But if you’re wondering how private products could benefit you, then this section is for you.

Here are a few good reasons why you might want private products in your store:

Client-specific products

Client or user-specific products are only available to certain customers. Good examples of this type of store include photographers or print shops who are creating products on a customer-by-customer basis and may only want those products to be visible to their owners.

There’s a whole article on client-specific products and how to create them here.

Members-only products

Maybe you’re running a membership site or you just have certain products that you’d like to offer exclusively to certain customers. Private products are perfect in this instance – you can hide them from the general public and make them accessible to customers you’ve selected.

There’s an article about how to create a members-only store in WooCommerce here.

Staff-only products

If you are running a company that provides staff-only equipment or material, then private products are the solution for you. You can use the main part of your shop to sell your customers products, then keep a section private for staff goods.

Age-restricted products

If you’re selling alcohol or other age-restricted products, you won’t want to have those products in full view of any younger visitors browsing your store. The best way to keep them hidden is to make them private.

Branded products

Many businesses provide branding services – for example, you might be running a B2B store where you supply other businesses with workwear. Having private products means you can separate products from the rest of the store so that they’re only visible to the customers you want.

How do I create a hidden product in WooCommerce?

The easiest way to create a hidden product is to use a plugin like WooCommerce Members Only. This plugin has all the features you need to make products private, enabling you to set global rules on content, and categories, or drill down to specific products.

Let’s take a very simple example and imagine we’re creating a product that we only want a few of our customers to see. Here’s the step-by-step guide to the process. 

Step One: Install WooCommerce Members Only

First of all, we need to install and activate the Members Only plugin. We will use it to set unique privacy rules for different products.

Step Two: Ensure products are visible

With Members Only installed and activated, you can check the settings page to ensure that all your products are initially visible and not private.

Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Members Only and ensure the ‘Restriction Method’ option is set to ‘No Restriction’. This means that Members Only won’t apply any global restrictions.

Members Only no global restriction

Step Three: Make your selected product private

Now, go to the edit screen for the product that you want to protect from general customers.

In the ‘Product data’ panel, you’ll see a new tab called ‘Members Only’. Click on this.

woocommerce private product members only

Password-protected product

Because we’ve decided that we’re going to password protect this product, set the ‘Restriction method’ to ‘Password’.

You’ll get a couple of new fields:

Setting multiple passwords for the same product

You can enter as many passwords in the ‘Passwords’ field as you like; just enter each one on a new line. All the passwords you enter in this field will be valid for this product.

The advantage of having multiple passwords is that you can give different customers different passwords if you wish. Also, if you’ve got several private products, you could make some passwords valid across all products while other passwords only work for certain products.

Hide in Archives

The ‘Hide in Archives’ setting allows you to fine-tune your private product’s visibility. Whether you check this option or not depends on how visible you want your product to be.

If you select this checkbox, then the product won’t appear in any archives, including the shop page and search results.

If you leave it unselected, then the product will still be visible on those pages, but no one will be able to view the product page itself without the correct password. This is a great option if you want customers to see that there are certain products in your store, perhaps as an enticement or encouragement to join.

Step Four: Publish your product

This is literally all you need to do to make your product private and protected by one or more passwords. You can go ahead and publish it now.

What happens when you don’t know the password?

Your selected product is now protected from customers who don’t have a password.

If a user tries to access the product page, they’ll be redirected to a landing page where they’ll be asked to enter their password. Let’s take a look at that in a bit more detail.

Defining your password page

When Members Only is installed, it will prompt you to ask if you want it to create a page to hold the password form.

WooCommerce Members Only auto create page
Automatically create the password log-in form and page

If you click the ‘Yes’ button, the plugin will automatically create a new page and add a shortcode which will display a password form.

Now, when a user tries to access a product that’s password protected, they’ll be redirected to the page with the form where they can enter their password.

Create private WooCommerce categories

Okay, so we’ve seen how easy it is to make a single product private and password protected. Now let’s look at making multiple products private.

The simplest way to do this is through the use of private categories. Making a category private means that all the products within it are automatically private too.

We’ll look at two methods: creating a password-protected category and creating a user role-based category. I’m only going to cover these briefly – for a more in-depth tutorial, take a look at this article on private categories.

Creating private products in a password-protected category

In our first method, we’ll look at how easy it is to create WooCommerce private products using a password-protected category.

Step One: Install Members Only

Firstly, you’ll need to install and activate Members Only (if it’s not already activated).

Step Two: Specify your private category

There are two ways to define private categories: globally and at the individual category level.

To define private categories globally, go to WooCommerce > Settings > Fees and Discounts. Set the ‘Restricted Content’ field to ‘Specified Categories’ then in the ‘Restricted Categories’ field enter the categories you’d like to keep private.

Set the other parameters depending on your requirements: for example, set the ‘Restriction Method’ to ‘Password’ if you want to password protect the category.

Step Three: That’s it

That is how you create multiple private products by the use of protected categories. All the products within your specified categories will be private.

By the way, if you’re interested in protecting categories by user role, you should check out this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make my WooCommerce store private?

A private store enables you to sell exclusive products or run a membership or subscription-based store. You can easily create a password-protected WooCommerce store by creating password-protected products or private product categories. Since this is not a functionality available in default WooCommerce, you can use a plugin like WooCommerce Members Only.  

How do I hide a product from a user in WooCommerce?

Hidden products allow for more targeted and personalized shopping experiences, as well as the ability to protect sensitive or restricted products. You can hide a product from users by restricting content by user role or by protecting it using a password. With a plugin like WooCommerce Members Only, you can set it up in minutes!

Let’s recap

So, we’ve looked at what WooCommerce private products are and why you might benefit from using them in your store. We also looked at a couple of methods of creating them – firstly, creating a single private product and secondly, creating multiple private products through a protected category.

You can accomplish all this (and more) with a single plugin – WooCommerce Members Only.

WooCommerce Members Only featured image

WooCommerce Members Only

Protect your content and sell members-only products

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